Interview Lim Kok Kean
“We hope that people who come to our shows will be moved emotionally, like they’ve just watched a great movie or a read a great book”
In just eight short years, Japanese instrumental quartet Mono (not to be confused with British trip hop band Mono) has garnered a cult thanks to a prolific output, ceaseless touring and mesmerizing live shows. Imagine a monolithic sound, dense melodies courtesy of guitarists Taka and Yoda, anchored by oceanic low rumblings from bassist Tamaki and backed by a tsunami of a percussion force from drummer Takada. Lazily filed into the “post-rock” folder, Mono’ sound is more complex, having more in common with experimental acts such as Do Think Make Say or Stars Of The Lids than the oft cited Mogwai or Slint. JUICE hunkered down with main man Taka when the band was in town.
Hi Taka, how’s the tour so far?
So far it’s been good, we just came from Singapore and it was very good; everyone was excited, we didn’t made any mistakes and the crowd knew the songs, they go ‘Woooh!’ every time we start a song (laughs) so it was fun.
You guys tour a lot, six months out of a year, is it important for the band?
Actually, when we started the band we wanted to tour as much as we could, to get our music out there. We don’t want to be the typical Japanese band that doesn’t tour much because we’re too busy doing promotions, trying to sell albums…. We want to play shows to people and let them hear for themselves. This will be our 8th year touring as a band.
It must be strange, being a Japanese band but playing more often in the US and Europe than you do back in Japan.
Yeah, it was difficult in Japan because of the kind of music we play and also because we’re an instrumental band. When we first started, nobody would book us or refused to let us play, that’s why we had to go tour abroad!
Does touring affect your creative process and the songs you write?
I think it’s the people who come to our shows, the people that we meet, hang out with that provide inspiration and make touring such a worthwhile and special experience for us.
You’re working again with Steve Albini, the legendary producer behind Nirvana, PJ Harvey, Pixies and The Stooges amongst others.
Yeah, we’ve done four songs so far with Steve, the album should be out sometime next year. He’s a really great person and he’s so good at capturing how we sound as a band. We don’t use computers or anything like that and Steve’s one of the best engineers around who can record bands live so it’s always good to work with him.
4 albums, 3 EPs and loads of collaborations packed into 8 years. This band is really productive, don’t you guys take a break?
Actually we were gonna take this year off and work on some new material but then suddenly we got a lot of offers to play in Asia [the current tour] and we just didn’t want to pass up this opportunity – we never played in this region before. J
The Mono show at Zouk KL back in July was a mind-blowing experience was brought to you by the good people at Soundscape Records. If you were not there, you slept big time. Go to www.soundscape-records.com for future events and www.mono-jpn.com for more Mono.